Burnley's ninth Premier League game in a row without a win was subject to a chorus of boos at the full time whistle as Roy Hodgson began his Watford reign with a point, leaving The Clarets still rooted to the bottom of the table.
A carnival atmosphere was created ahead of kick off in recognition of Ben Mee, celebrating the skipper's 10th anniversary at the club. Fans were handed free flags after entering the turnstiles. Alongside this, Chairman Alan Pace's donation of 1,000 tickets for the Saturday night fixture contributed to an almost sold of Turf Moor welcoming the players onto the pitch for this crucial clash.
Frustratingly for the home fans, the performance was more matched to the treacherous conditions the players walked into. Whilst it must be said the weather was difficult for both sides to create any passages of play, a real lack of confidence was evident throughout.
The experienced manager of over 45 years Hodgson took his seat in the dugout knowing he was Watford's third manager this season in the space of 7 months. A trend not unfamiliar to the travelling Hornets fans. For Burnley though, an inability to break down a side close to them in the table is what cost them once again. Just like Norwich City in October and Newcastle United in December, Watford found their first clean sheet of the season against Sean Dyche's men.
How Both Sides set up
Burnley lined up in their usual 4-4-2 formation. The inclusion of selective personnel gave the home fans a sense of belief. The Clarets star man from the first half of the campaign Maxwel Cornet returned back to the starting XI upon representing Ivory Coast at this year's African Cup of Nations in Cameroon. Deadline day signing Wout Weghorst was given an immediate Premier League debut upon following an arrival from Wolfsburg to lead the attack. Summer signing Connor Roberts also made his first Premier League start at Turf Moor, following on from his impressive performance at the Emirates stadium prior to the winter break.
Burnley's game plan was clear for all to see inside Turf Moor, utilising the height of Weghorst with crosses into the box. The service provided to the new number nine however was not to a high standard. Most notably on the right hand, the link up play of Roberts and Lennon proved to be ineffective, the latter often wanted to come inside rather than making a run down the wing. The Welsh defender was fortunate to not concede a penalty immediately before half-time for a handball incident following a VAR review.
Burnley looked to offer more support to Weghorst with the inclusion of Jay Rodriguez in the second half, moving Cornet onto the wing to hope a better quality of service would become apparent. Further missed chances however was consistent until the end of the match.
Watford matched Burnley's formation but had a stronger control of the midfield through Moussa Sissoko. The experienced player signed from Tottenham Hotspur in the summer portrayed a commanding presence, allowing the away side to play the ball through the middle of the pitch, finding useful pockets to pass into. Such a game plan was suited to Striker Joshua King who used his pace to stretch Burnley's defensive line and get the hornets up the pitch.
The Hornets most notable chance though came from good play by substitutes Cucho Hernandez and Tom Cleverley in the 85th Minute. A strong run towards the Burnley box from Hernandez allowed the ball to fall to to the former England international's feat following a few deflections. Cleverley's shot was down low to Nick Pope's right hand side with the goalkeeper needing to dive down low to put the ball beyond the post.
If Burnley are to have any hope of pulling of what now seems likely to be a great escape, Maxwel Cornet will need to continue his excellent start to English Football.
The midfielder is The Clarets top goal scorer in the Premier League this season, getting six in twelve appearances so far. Whilst he was unable to add to his tally against The Hornets, it was no surprise to see him produce the best two goal scoring chances. In each half, clean strikes forced goalkeeper Ben Foster to push the shots away.
It looked as though Cornet would repeat his memorable free Kick from Elland road he scored as a parting gift before international duty during yesterday's second half. This time however, the shot only found it's way into the wall. Whilst there is hope the addition of Weghorst will eventually ease the burden on Cornet, Dyche will be desperate for the clarets playmaker to pick up where he left off and fire Burnley up the table.
It could be suggested Ben Foster is now known more for his performances away from the pitch rather than on it. During last season's games behind closed doors, the likeable character gave both Watford and football supporters in general an inside view of a football club with his popular Youtube channel The Cycling GK, which now has over 1 million subscribers.
The former Manchester United keeper however would have been delighted to show people he's still capable of producing commanding performances at the age of 38. Foster was confident in claiming any balls which came into his box and was vocal in instructing those in front of him.